Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeffrey Feffer, DDS, MPH.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Jeffrey. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born in New Jersey, but moved to Los Angeles when I was 10. I graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in Bacteriology, and continued my studies at UCLA and received a Master’s degree in infectious disease epidemiology. I was planning to apply to medical school, but I was influenced by my then girlfriend’s father to apply to dental school instead. He was very well respected in his field, and an international lecturer in dentistry. He truly enjoyed his career, and his explanations of the type of work he did, coupled with his enjoyment of the long standing patient-dentist relationships he created encouraged me to go in this direction. I had always built models, fixed anything that was broken mechanically, and enjoyed the artistic expression of three dimensional creations. I felt that this career choice allowed me to be artistically expressive, and to be a health care doctor. I applied to Northwestern University Dental School, and was accepted during my interview when I boldly told my interviewer that the school needed someone like me, as there was no one on the faculty who had a public health background. I told him that if I was accepted, that I would teach epidemiology to the students and faculty. Epidemiology is the study of the distribution of diseases and injuries in human populations. After I was accepted, during the first quarter of classes, I was summoned to the Dean’s office, and was informed that would be giving a lecture on basic principles of epidemiology to the students in the classes ahead of me. I took the challenge, and for the next couple of years lectured a few times while I was a student there.
After I graduated, I remained in the Chicago area and became an associate dentist in a small practice on the corner of Ashland and Diversey. Several years later, I wished to purchase a practice, and started working with a dentist in a large medical building on Sheridan and Diversey. At the closing of the sale of this practice, the selling dentist changed the terms of the agreement, and broke the deal. I started working in another office while I planned out my future, and in 1989 opened my own business on Diversey Parkway where I still am today. Due to the continued growth of the practice, I bought out the leases of the adjacent tenants, and increased the physical size of my practice. Today, after 36 years in practice, and 28 in this location, I am proud to say that due to the support of the community, the satisfaction of my patients, and the incredible staff that I work with that I am an extremely fortunate person to have made so many friends and increased my enjoyment of life.
Has it been a smooth road?
Like anything in life, there are good times and bad. At Northwestern, I received an outstanding dental education, but no courses in business. As an owner, I need to be a technically excellent dentist, be an outstanding communicator, and to run an efficient business operation. I had to learn business as I went along, and had to learn who to trust regarding accounting, computer support, and equipment and supplies. Once, I hired a front desk manager who wasn’t executing the business model that I implemented, but I wasn’t aware of it until much later. This caused a deep disconnect with some patients. Once I realized what had happened, I sent out a mass apology letter to the entire practice and replaced this employee. Fortunately, the letter was well received, but it took time to correct for the damage that occurred. This taught me that the mutual respect among patients and staff and a harmonious business environment was the true key to happiness and profitability.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
I am truly blessed to work with people that are excellent at what they do. We are an international group, and enjoy the language capabilities that we have. We all speak English, of course. Tami, our office manager has been with us over 10 years and speaks perfect Greek. Griselda has been with us for 20 years, and speaks perfect Spanish. Denise speaks perfect Spanish. Aida, one of our assistants was a dentist in Columbia for 25 years, and speaks perfect Spanish. Our world class hygienist Jing speaks Chinese. I speak very good Spanish, and although I once could speak very good Italian, can still get by. We do have patients who come from all over the world, and to be able to communicate with them in their mother tongue is always an advantage, and often cements relationships.
We are a full service dental practice. I have a strong emphasis on highly artistic restorations, ranging from cosmetic bonding to all ceramic crowns and veneers. I haven’t done a silver filling in over 25 years, and all of our fillings are done with composite that matches the color of the tooth being worked on. I was encouraged to become an endodontist as well as a pediatric dentist while in dental school, but didn’t want to specialize in one field since I enjoy the many different areas of clinical dentistry. I perform almost all of the root canals needed to be done, do periodontal surgery, as well as oral surgery, complex prosthetic reconstruction, dentures and partial dentures, and truly enjoy working with kids.
For several years, I was the Team Dentist for the Chicago Fire professional soccer team. I went to all the home games for 2 years, always with an emergency kit. I had a number of players who became patients, and have some signed uniform jerseys on the walls in my office. I am a member of the Academy for Sports Dentistry, and became qualified to render dental treatment for Olympic athletes in my office. Recently, I received memorabilia from a fantastic medal winner, Tucker Dupree that I have on the wall as well.
Our office is very much a warm, supportive, interactive office. We are known for great conversation, harmony, consistency and stability. We are successful because we value the personal relationships that are created here, and feel that we are an integral element in the life of an individual or family.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Unfortunately, due to the unnecessarily high cost of a dental education, and the high cost of opening up a dental practice, it is difficult for anyone to simply open a dental practice. It takes years to develop judgment, clinical skills, and business acumen to be clinically and economically successful. The Chicago area is saturated with dentists. My suggestion would be to look outside of the city to open a business at this time, or to find a strong business with a great mentor to guide a young dentist into developing skills.
Our city has made the Chicago area difficult due to the very high cost of parking. The city can’t do too much to help young dentists, but dental school tuition reform, nationwide student loan interest rate reforms and dental insurance reform that develops consistent standards would help new graduates become financially stable.
- Address: Jeffrey P. Feffer, DDS, MPH, Ltd
561 W. Diversey Parkway Suite 203
Chicago, IL 60614
- Website: www.lakeviewdds.com
- Phone: 773-348-3668
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Yelp: Jeffrey P. Feffer DDS